Three offering smartphone SIM-only tariffs from £10/month

January 26th, 2011

Three are offering SIM-only tariffs starting from 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 1GB internet for £10/month.

If you already own a 3G mobile phone and you’re not tied into a contract, you could save between £180/year and £240/year by switching to one of Three’s SIM-only tariffs.

What is a SIM-only tariff?

A SIM-only tariff is like a traditional mobile phone contract but one which doesn’t come with a handset. For this reason, SIM-only tariffs are cheaper and offer huge savings compared to traditional mobile contracts particularly for users who are happy with their current mobile phones. They are also ideal for customers who have completed the original term of their Pay Monthly contract (e.g. the first 18 or 24 months). By switching to a SIM-only tariff, many people realise savings of between £180/year and £240/year.

Another key benefit of SIM-only tariffs is that they have a shorter contract length. Whereas traditional contracts might lock you in for 18-24 months, many SIM-only tariffs are only 1 month or 12 month contracts.

What deals are available?

Three offer 6 SIM-only tariffs ranging from £10/month to £25/month. For the entry-level £10/month package, you’ll get 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 1GB internet each month. The high-end £25 “One Plan” SIM-only tariff offers 2000 minutes, 5000 Three-to-Three minutes, 5000 texts and all-you-can-eat data with no download limits and free tethering (see our review of The One Plan).

Minutes Texts Internet Price (1 month contract) Price (12 month contract)
100 3000 1GB £10
300 3000 1GB £15 £10
600 3000 1GB £20 £15
2000 (One Plan) 5000 All-you-can-eat £25

How much money would I save my switching to a SIM-only tariff on Three?

The amount of money you save would depend on your current tariff and the difference in the monthly cost with Three’s SIM-only tariff.

For example if you’ve got an iPhone on an 18 month O2 contract, you would currently be paying £35.74/month for 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB internet. By switching to Three’s £10/month tariff, you’d get 300 minutes, 3000 texts, 1GB internet and you’d save £25.74 each month. This works out as a saving of £300/year.

Most people save between £15/month and £20/month (between £180 and £240 each year) by switching to a SIM-only tariff.

What are the alternatives? How does the Three deal compare?

On the whole, Three tends to offer the lowest-priced tariffs in the whole market. For example, taking the £10/month market, only Three and T-Mobile offer tariffs which are suitable for smartphones. Compared to T-Mobile’s equivalent deal, Three offers 3x as many minutes, unlimited texts and double the amount of data.

Network Monthly Price Contract Length Minutes Texts Internet
Three £10.00 12 months 300 Unlimited 1GB
Orange £10.21 12 months 300 Unlimited
Vodafone £10.21 12 months 300 Unlimited
Tesco Mobile £10.00 1 month 250 Unlimited
Orange £10.21 1 month 100 Unlimited
Vodafone £10.21 1 month 100 Unlimited
O2 £10.21 1 month 100 Unlimited
T-Mobile £10.21 1 month 100 100 500MB

What does 1GB actually correspond to in real-world usage?

1GB is roughly equivalent to reading 3000 rich webpages or downloading a million basic e-mails (without attachments). The average smartphone user uses around 200MB-250MB each month so 1GB (1000MB) should more than suffice. See our guide to download limits and what they mean in reality.

If you’re looking for peace-of-mind about your data usage or you’d like to “tether” your phone to a laptop for mobile broadband, check out the £25/month “One Plan” package. This has no download limits and includes free tethering.

What is Three signal like in my area?

Enter your postcode on the Three coverage checker. This will provide an assessment as to whether you can receive a Three signal where you live and work.

Are these deals available to existing Three customers?

Yes. If you currently have a Three Pay Monthly contract and have reached the end of your original term (e.g. 18 months or 24 months), you would be eligible to switch down to a cheaper SIM-only tariff. If you are still within the term of your contract, you’ll need to wait. If you’re looking for more minutes than your current package offers, you can ask Three to upgrade you to a more expensive price plan at any time. This may have the effect of reducing the total price you pay if you currently pay for a lot of out-of-bundle minutes.

If you are a Three Pay As You Go customer, you can switch to a SIM-only tariff at any time.

Is my existing mobile phone compatible with Three?

In order to use Three, you’ll need a 3G mobile phone. Three do not provide a 2G service. Enter details about the make and model of your mobile phone on the Three website to find out whether your phone is 3G-enabled.

Your phone will also need to be unlocked.

I’ve got an iPhone 4. Are there any micro-SIM deals available?

Yes. Three provide two SIM-only tariffs for the iPhone 4:

Can I keep my existing phone number when I switch to Three?

Yes. You’ll need to ask your existing network for a PAC code and then provide this to Three who will move your number over within 2 working days. See our detailed guide to PAC Codes for more information.

Where can I get these deals?

You can view a full list of Three’s SIM-only tariffs and purchase them on the Three website.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

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